What to do on a boring Sunday evening if you live in Hobart? Are you tired of telling your work colleagues on a Monday morning about the same old drunken debauchery? If so, then you might just fancy trying something a little bit otherworldly. I decided to bravely venture on the well-established Port Arthur Ghost Tour.
Our tour guide and paranormal guardian for the evening was an out-of-this-world creature by the name of Amber. By spooky lantern light she guided our group of 30 brave souls around some of the most haunted buildings in the world.
I have been on a few ghost tours in my shady past. Most were more act than fact. Port Arthur has something over all the others. Some of the most grisly stories ever to have taken place happened within the grounds of this particular punishment station. The guides don't have to rely on special effects to terrify you; the truth does all the hard work for them. Amber told us a mixture of historic tales and some alarmingly recent ones too. Worryingly the historic horrors would often closely relate to some of the recent hauntings experienced by ghost tour attendees. The vast quantity of wild animals roaming the site after dark makes sure there is always something that goes bump in the night. All these elements combine to make the ghost tour a truly chilling and one-of-a-kind experience.
Now I want to make something extremely clear. I do not believe in ghosts, aliens, sprites, the Loch Ness monster or even Tony Abbott's exam grades. But I have to confess that something happened to me on this tour. It might have been my imagination but I don't know that it was. While we were in the senior surgeon's basement I had what I would later find out could have been an "emotional haunting". While standing in the corner of the room, which as we know protects you from all ghostly beings, I felt something move past my head on either side. No big deal, I hear you cry. What a wimp! Well it also felt like it passed through my head. I didn't say anything to the guide or anyone else for fear of being sectioned under the mental health act. It wasn't a bad feeling but it did put me on guard for the rest of the tour.
After the tour I spoke to Todd, who is another one of the extremely friendly tour guides. At first I thought that maybe I should blurt it out, shriek in a pitch so high that it could only be heard by dogs and confess that I had been possessed, to be quickly followed by me begging him for the number of a 24-hour exorcist. I opted on the slightly less embarrassing choice of asking him if he had ever heard of anyone experiencing anything unusual while on one of his tours. To my relief he had. He himself had been haunted on numerous occasions. It was an occupational risk and all new guides were warned of this before they are even allowed to take the job. I immediately confessed about my demonic encounter. I was one of the lucky ones according to Todd. Visitors are sometimes found sitting on the floor of a cell, rocking back and forth in a near catatonic state. Suddenly I didn't feel so bad.
Port Arthur gets thousands of documented reports of supernatural experiences every year. If you think about all the people who are either too scared, or like me too embarrassed, to report their encounter, then could Port Arthur be the most haunted place on the planet? With all the questions surrounding what goes on at Port Arthur, there is no such mystery about how they have been selling out their ghost tours for almost 20 years. Spook early to avoid disappointment.